Who's The Man? Eli or Big Ben?


Today's meeting between the Giants and Steelers could be a Super Bowl preview. Ok, I'm getting a little ahead of myself but with both teams at 5-1 it's not an outlandish thought.

Much talk leading into this game is which QB is better, Eli Manning or Ben Roethlisberger? Both were drafted in the 1st Round. Both are the only Super Bowl winning QB's who were drafted in the same 1st round.

"I think you've got to throw (San Diego's) Philip Rivers in there, too," said former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, who was in Pittsburgh when the Steelers drafted Roethlisberger with the 11th pick and now works as a studio analyst for CBS. "I don't think you're going to find a quarterback class like it. Certainly you can go back to '83, but this class of Rivers, Roethlisberger and Manning is going to go down as one of the great classes of quarterbacks. You're not going to be able to match that."
The Steelers' defense is ranked No. 1 in the NFL and is first in sacks with 25. The Giants are ranked fourth overall, and second in sacks with 21.

Both men met back in 2004 when the Steelers won 33-30. On that day Manning went 16 for 23, 182 yards, two touchdowns and one interception while Roethlisberger had his first 300-yard game and 18 of 28, 316 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions.

"They are both guys who have had accelerated experiences, let's put it that way, because of the nature of playing at such a young age (and) going through the amount of experiences that they have had against the great defensive teams in the league," Tom Coughlin said. "Without a doubt, there are similarities in the way in which their experiences have gone, even though there are differences in what you might call style of play."

Today's game in Pittsburg is going to be a messy one as rain poured down all day yesterday. If you saw last night's World Series Game 3, you saw it get delayed 91 minutes by heavy rain. It was also like that here in New York. Hopefully by the 4pm start today the field will be in good condition. The weather should be pleasant with game time temp hovering around 50 but the wind is suppose be around 15mph is that going to be a factor? We'll see.

This game is going to be close and one to watch. I got the Giants going over Big Ben and his boys today. No matter the outcome today, both teams have a good shot at making the playoffs. One guy who knows about both QB's is Giants WR Plaxico Burress. Here's what he had to say about his former QB:
"Oh yeah, there was no question about it," he said. "Some of the things he was capable of doing -his athleticism, making crazy throws, getting out of the pocket, giving his receivers the opportunity to make plays down the field -he's continued to do that. Because of that he's an elite quarterback and a Super Bowl champion. I can't say enough about the guy."


Well let the talking turn into playing on the field and let's see who emerges on top.
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Isiah's Coverup Is A Disgrace and BS

I usually do a lot of baseball blogs but once the season is over I go and cover basketball mainly as football is 3rd on my list of favorite sports but one thing that is high on my list of topics to cover...Isiah Thomas. I love bashing the guy every chance I get and just when I thought those days were over here comes a new story.

This further proves how much of a slimball Isiah is. On Friday he was rushed to a Westchester hospital for overdosing on sleeping pills. Police authories revealed Thomas had taken 10 Lunestra pills and lost consciousness by the time emergency workers arrived.

Thomas was asked about this incident and replied by saying it wasn't him who was rushed to the hospital. He claimed it was his 17 year old daughter Lauren. Isiah's son Joshua also backed up his dad's story by saying it was his sister who was the one who had an accidental overdose of sleeping pills.

"I love both my sister and dad and am glad that both are doing well. Thanks for all the support, but as a family we are fine and stronger than ever." Joshua said.

I see that Joshua takes after his dad with his false sense of reality. They're stronger than ever? Ha, ok. The father blames his daughter for OD on pills and the son lies right along with him. Disgraceful. Harrison Police Chief David Hall, involved in the case also blasted Thomas for his coverup.

"My cops ... know the difference between a 47-year-old black male and a young black female," Hall told The Associated Press. "It wasn't his daughter - and why they're throwing her under the bus is beyond my ability to understand."

It really is a shame how Thomas' rep has taken a hit in the last few years. He turned the Knicks organization into a disgrace all the way from the brawl they had with the Nuggets a few years ago to the sexual harassment case that cost the Knicks and Cablevision $11 million. Thomas was finally shown the door at the end of last season when the Knicks got tired of his act and released him of his duties as Team President and Head Coach. Both moves were long overdue.

This latest story regarding Isiah is sad. The man needs to get a grip on reality and apparently so does his son. It's not bad enough he's turned a once great franchise into a laughingstock, he's cost a company millions of dollars and now he's thrown his own family into a media circus for his own selfish reasons. How could you place blame on your daughter for something like that? What kind of man is Isiah Thomas? This guy has some serious problems and I hope he gets them fixed because something's not right up there. Let's see how this story unfolds. Nothing surprises me with this guy anymore, he's a scumbag, what do you expect.
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'08 World Series Predicition: TB in 7


Two games into the 2008 World Series and we are tied 1-1. Where am I going with this? Game 7 in Tampa, thats where. It's a tough call as far as giving a prediction for who's winning this series but I think I will have to go with the Rays. Rays in seven again!

Here's how I view it:

Starting Pitching

Advatage: Rays
James Shields has pitched well this postseason and Matt Garza's impressive ALCS performance earns them the edge here. Phillies' Cole Hamels can't pitch every game, that becomes a problem considering the rest of the rotation is questionable, but it's possible they can get the job done, I just like the stability of the Rays' staff over the course of a long series.

Bullpen
Advatage:
Phillies
The Rays don't have a closer unless they plan on using David Price, which they should do. The Phillies 1-2 combo of Ryan Madsen and Brad Lidge are untouchable and have been lights out this October. That's a HUGE factor in October. This is the biggest difference between the teams.

Lineup
Advantage:
Even
Philly with Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Pat Burrell can go to-to-toe with BJ Upton, Evan Longoria, Carlos Pena and Carl Crawford. So far we haven't seen as much offense as we thought we might see but the guys listed can certainly set off some fireworks.

Defense
Advantage:
Rays
This is a close call but the Rays all around defense is stellar. The outfield is one of the game's best. Upton and Crawford for TB cover a lot of ground. Philly's outfield isn't bad either led by Shane Victorino but TB has the edge there. As far as the rest of the infield it's a tough call but I gotta call it even there. While Philly I think has the better doubleplay combo TB has Dioneer Navarro behind the plate and I think he's the main difference maker. He has come into his own this year and has the almighty task of directing the pitching staff, that kind of leadership is important in a series like this. A plus is he can throw out runners, that's important because if Rollins or Victorino ever get on base, they'll think twice before swiping a bag.

Rays won my breakdown 2-1-1. Hey, I told you it's close but when it comes down to the playoffs, starting pitching is the most important thing. If the Rays can take the lead early then they have a good shot at keeping it, but if Philly has a lead late in the game it'll be tough for Tampa to comeback. I hope people have been watching this series as it's been competitive so far and the trend looks to continue as the series progresses. I won't be disappointed if Philly wins because then it means they can show up to Citi Field next season with their world championship hats and t-shirts. They can taunt the Mets fans all year long and I would love to see it. If Tampa wins and not only am I right with my prediction but it completes the Cinderella story for 2008. Let's hope for a memorable World Series, that's what I'm rooting for the most.
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While the World Series is being played out in "Tampa" and Philly, the Yankees are planning out their offseason plans in Tampa. Yea, their offices are actually in Tampa unlike the Rays who don't actually play there, but that's a story for another day. According to Mike Lupica of the Daily News the Yankees are ready to break the bank open to get back to the promise land. With about $80 million coming off the books this winter, it's almost certain that they will add that right back and may even surpass that.
"I'm not saying (the huge spending) won't happen," Brian Cashman said. "I know people expect us to go crazy. Even when we don't go crazy, people still look at whatever we do and say, 'There's the Yankees being the Yankees.' We're the Evil Empire even when we're not."

This is true. The one MUST this winter is getting C.C. Sabathia no matter the cost. We learned that not going after Johan Santana last year didn't help the Yankees in 2008. They certainly don't want an encore performance in '09 of their disappointing '08 so Sabathia is a must. It's just a matter of signing that check to C.C.'s liking. Objective 1 done.

Manny Ramirez in pinstripes? No way. It doesn't matter how Manny played the last few months in L.A., he will be 37 next season and you have to remember the way he sat out his final days in Boston because he didn't feel like playing. Besides, him and A-Rod in the same clubhouse?? OMG, the possibility of things that can happen there can only lead to trouble and backpage headlines, none of which would be good for the Bombers. Another factor in this is that the Yanks don't need hitting, they need desperately to fix their pitching. Manny would just be his own sideshow.

Objective 2, First Base. What's wrong with a guy like Doug Mientkiewicz? He was a solid defender and uhh well "decent" bat. Why do we need an all-star first baseman? Mark Teixiera would be a great bat in the lineup and a good guy to have on the team but if his asking price is too high why bother? Well he is switch-hitting and can put up .300 35 115 easily. Ok, so we give him a run for his money and see where we end up. So is signing Tex a must? That may depend on wheter the Yanks bring back Bobby Abreu, who looks to be on the way out. Figures, the only consistent guy with the bat is on his way out. Good job by the Yanks, you should keep this guy until his arms fall off because you know he will give you production. More production that Jorge Posada might give you the rest of his contract. Smart move by the Yanks...NOT!

Objective 3, another starting pitcher. Get Oliver Perez, while he also might be a little high in his asking price, he might fit into the rotation just fine being the 4th starter behind *Sabathia, Wang, and Joba. Yes this is how the rotation should look coming into opening day next year. If Perez isn't an option I do NOT like AJ Burnett. Reason behind that? He'll be Carl Pavano II, and we sure as hell don't want another one of those. So I don't even consider Burnett, unless he lowers his price dramatically. Derek Lowe? Hey why not? He pitched well down the stretch and is an experienced pitcher with postseason success. Take a gamble with him, he might be that workhouse the rotation needs, especially if the Yanks choose to part ways with Andy Pettitte.

Objective 4, centerfield? I question that because do we really need a CF? The answer is no. Do we want a stud out there? The answer is yes. Melky Cabrera wasn't the answer in '08, we thought he was. Brett Gardner can't hit yet and we don't know if he ever will. Austin Jackson? Ehh, let's not rush him up just yet. He looks to be your guy in center in the future but right now what is the right answer? I say leave Damon out there another year until his contract is up and give Melky and/or Gardner the other starts. Then evaluate this again next winter where more options could open up. But right now it makes sense for the Yanks to keep their trading chips and their money on getting a new CF for '09. Unless you can get a guy like Matt Kemp from the Dodgers, then CF shouldn't be addressed. Damon can still hit and produce, yes he has a weak arm but so did Bernie Williams and we were fine when he was roaming center.

Again, the need this winter is pitching. Worry first and foremost on pitching and upgrading it, not just taking leftovers off the free agent bum list. No more Ponsons, Rasners, or anyone else like that. No more! I don't want to see it. Those guys combined for 35 starts this year, that is NO GOOD. This is your 2009 rotation if things work out right.

1- CC Sabathia
2- Chien-Ming Wang
3- Joba Chamberlain
4- Oliver Perez
5- Phil Hughes/ Andy Pettitte

Not a bad staff there. Gives you a little depth towards the end if Andy comes back. Each guy could give you at least 10 wins with the exception of Hughes who we have no idea what to expect. Mike Mussina is almost a sure lock to retire. Once the World Series is done and over with next week, then the "hot stove" will heat up. If my rotation isn't what the Yankees are looking for then what are they going for?
"We're always trying to push to get better," Cashman said.

They got the money, make it happen. If Hank Steinbrenner has his way, the bank will be shattered and the Yanks will get their wants, but I hope that means they got their needs too.
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ALCS Game 7: Rays Take Care of Business, Reach Series



The Rays are finally in! They are going to the World Series! After defeating the Boston Red Sox 3-1 in Game 7, Tampa Bay ended Boston's hopes of making another unprobable comeback.

Game 7 lived up to the hyped. It was close early on, pitchers duel throughout. Boston got off to a good start in the 1st inning with a Dustin Pedoria HR putting them up 1-0. It stayed that way until the 4th inning when Evan Longoria doubled off Boston starter Jon Lester to score Carlos Pena from first base. In the 5th, longtime Ray Rocco Baldelli got a go-ahead single to score Willie Aybar. Aybar then added a HR in the 7th to give Tampa some insurance.

Matt Garza was named ALCS MVP for his performance in the series (2-0 1.38 ERA). He pitched into the 8th inning giving up just 1 run.

“As a kid I think everybody pictures this night,” he said. “Usually it’s Game 7 of the World Series but I’ll take Game 7 of the ALCS.”

A couple big plays in the game: in the top of the 6th with Pedoria on first and a 3-2 pitch to David Ortiz, Garza struck out Ortiz and Dioneer Navarro threw to second to nail Pedoria trying to steal, inning over. Then in the bottom of the 8th with the bases loaded and 2 outs, Tampa manager Joe Maddon brought in phemon David Price, the 4th Tampa Bay pitcher of the inning. He came in and struck out Game 5 hero JD Drew, inning and rally over. The Rays finally punched their ticket to the Fall Classic. It was a few days later than expected but it was worth the wait.

“It’s unbelievable,” center fielder B.J. Upton said. “We battled a lot of adversity this year. We stuck together as a team.”

Congratulations to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Cinderella story continues. They will face the Philadelphia Phillies on Wednesday in Tampa for Game 1 of the 2008 World Series. I'm glad I was correct with my prediction of the Rays winning in 7. It brings great joy to me to see Boston get their hopes up only for them to get crushed right in front of my eyes. Maybe if they still had Manny this series would've gone differently. No more about how scrappy Pedoria is or how Big Papi delivers the big hit, no more Papelbum nonsense. Nothing! Time to go home guys, you are NO better than my NY Yankees. I don't care how far they got, they didn't win it all and thats all that matters.

The World Series should be interesting this year as both teams are well matched. More on that later in the week.
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ALCS Game 7 Tonight



The Sox have forced another Game 7 in the ALCS for the 3rd time in 4 years. After last night's 4-2 Boston win the series is now tied 3-3. It's time for Tampa Bay to panic. I'm not going in-depth with last night's game because I didn't see the game and there's no need to rehash my thoughts about who I want to win or who needs to do what to win this series. It's just amazing how the Red Sox can be down for the count, all the way to 9 and seem to rise up and get that second win and ride that momentum to victory. The Sox are 9-0 in ALCS elimination games under Terry Francona. That's just unheard of. The Rays better stay hungry tonight or else the clock will strike 12 and Cinderella will be no more.

Boston throws Jon Lester against Tampa Bay's Matt Garza.
TBS 8:07pm
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Torre Still Writing His Hollywood Ending


One of the things that made Joe Torre so loved in New York was the fact he was such a classy guy. So humble and down to earth, yet he had that demeanor that was stern and had that emotionless look on his face. Of course all the winning he did with the Yankees also helped everyone loved him too.

Back in late 1995 when he was announced as the new manager of the Yankees he was known for being a great catcher but a lousy manager. Having being fired in his previous stops with the Mets, Cardinals, and Braves, Torre came to the Bronx with a lot to prove. Boy did he prove everyone wrong. He restored pride in the pinstripes and brought four world championships while making the playoffs in each of his 12 seasons as manager. Last year when he was announced as the new manager of the Dodgers, he went to another organization where pride needed to be restored. Now, Torre was a legendary manager, with that also brought a bunch of expectations. Was it possible to exceed these expectations? Well considering Los Angeles didn't really have enough talent to go far, Torre had a surmountable task ahead of him. This year we were going to find out if it really was Torre who got the Yanks into the playoffs all these years or if it was the bank account that got him and endless list of All-Stars. Turns out maybe it was a little bit of both, but I think Torre should have been credited more.

Like in New York, Torre had his cast of veterans and youth. Last season Grady Little was criticized for losing his team down the stretch thus costing the Dodgers a chance at making the playoffs. This season under Torre the Dodgers went on an 8 game losing streak in late August yet still found in them to right the ship and charge into the postseason all the way to NLCS, a place they had no business being. Dodgers ownership saw potential with the team they had and added the pieces they lacked. They added Manny Ramirez, Casey Blake, and Greg Maddux. All made significant contributions. Ramirez was in a league of his own batting almost .400 while wearing Dodger Blue. He carried the offense on his back all the way from his July trade up until Wednesday night when the Dodgers were eliminated by the Phillies. One of the things that people got on Torre for his case of over-managing. Yankee fans can recall many instances in which Torre's late inning decisions might've cost the Bombers a game but when Torre came out in Game 4 and took out Derek Lowe after 5 innings it made you wonder what was Joe thinking? Nonetheless it was Joe who got the Dodgers this far.

"He's a leader," Dodgers owner Frank McCourt said. "His performance was everything we wanted this franchise to be."

Sure Manny was a HUGE help, but without Torre pushing the right buttons and guiding the way the first 4 months of the season the Dodgers don't go out and make the trade for Manny and they don't catch the Arizona Diamondbacks. So did Torre exceed expectations this year, his first in L.A.? I think so. If you think he didn't, just look at the status of his former team, the Yankees. They didn't even make the playoffs, forget that the Bombers had a better record, that fact is very misleading. The only thing that matters in sports is winning, especially when you're talking about the Dodgers and Yankees. Torre showed he still was a genius even if he wasn't in the Bronx.

"I came here wondering if managing was still fun," Torre said. "And it was."

The question now becomes what do the Dodgers do with Manny and the rest of their free agents (Nomar Garciaparra, Jeff Kent, Maddux, and Lowe)? It's going to be an interesting offseason in L.A.

"Hopefully the experience of this postseason helped everybody," Dodger first baseman James Loney said.


Torre came out after the series-eliminating loss on Wednesday night to thank the fans. Maybe he was watching the Yankees final game at Yankee Stadium and took a page out of Derek Jeter's book. The move doesn't surprise me because both men are classy and both men probably have the same mindset as they've spent so much time together over the years so it's just common sense to salute the fans. It's a good way to win over the fans, but in Torre's case, he had already done that...because he made the Dodgers matter again in Los Angeles. Something similar happened in New York back in 1996, he made the Yankees matter again. When it's all said and done Joe Torre will be the man setting the standards for managers everywhere. Oh wait, he already has.
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ALCS Game 6: Rays Try Again To Reach Series



In order for the Rays to erase Thursday night's historic collapse they must continue playing the way they have been the entire postseason prior to the 7th inning of Game 5. That means continue the solid pitching, continue the power surge in the beginning innings and stay aggressive early on and don't let up. If Tampa can respond with these things in tact then they might be poppin' bottles at the end of the night.

It's going to be a tough task as Boston will have Josh Beckett going in Game 6 against James Sheilds. Beckett isn't the dominant ace he was last season in October and the Rays got to him and roughed him up in Game 2. He's given up 12 runs and 18 hits in just 9 1/3 innings this postseason. Another factor going into Game 6 will be if David Ortiz can keep the momentum going after his 3-run HR in the 7th inning in Game 5. If his bat awakens for tonight's game then the Rays might be in for a long weekend. If the game comes down to a late inning matchup where Tampa manager Joe Maddon needs to get Big Papi out, does he go with Grant Balfour, whom which he went with in Game 5 and served up the HR or does he go with the lefties David Price or Trevor Miller? It'll be interesting to see what Maddon does tonight after seeing his bullpen implode on Thursday night.

BJ Upton and Evan Longoria hit back to back HRs in both Games 4 and 5, is it possible for them to do it again tonight? Both men are having great postseasons (6 HRs each) and they both need to continue to play up to their potential if the Rays are to advance to the World Series. The Sox are 8-0 in ALCS elimination games under manager Terry Francona. That goes back to Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees, a game where they were one out away from being swept. Tampa Bay is still the favorite in the series for obvious reasons, being up 3-2 at home is a lot better than being down 3-2 on the road. I predicted the Rays to win in 7 but if they lose tonight I DO NOT like their chances of winning Game 7 tomorrow night because if it gets to that point, you would have to think the baseball gods are members of Red Sox Nation. Oh man, can you imagine if Boston won this series and went on to win the World Series? It can't happen a 3rd time can it?
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ALCS Game 5: Red Sox Miracle at Fenway


I stayed up to write a World Series preview and write how Tampa Bay was so amazing in winning the AL pennant and instead, I got this...How in the world does Tampa Bay blow a 7-0 lead? The answer: Dan Wheeler threw 3 and 1/3 innings in Game 2 had nothing tonight and not having a legit closer hurt the Rays tonight in Game 5. Now the series shifts back to Tampa Bay on Saturday.

BJ Upton and Evan Longoria hit back-to-back HRs for the second straight game to put Tampa up big early on. Scott Kazmir pitched well in 6 innings, giving up 2 hits, striking out 7 and walking 3. The main event players for Boston finally awoke in the bottom of the 7th inning. Dustin Pedoria got a two out to put 2 men on for David Ortiz who got the big hit everyone was waiting for, a 3-run shot to right field to cut the Rays' lead to 7-4. JD Drew followed with a 2-run HR in the 8th to bring Boston closer at 7-6. Then Coco Crisp had the at-bat of the night fouling off pitch after pitch and finally got a pitch he could handle and hit a ball over Upton's head in center field and got the tying run to score. The Rays had 2 men on in the top of the 9th but Carlos Pena hit into an inning-ending double play. In the bottom of the 9th and 2 men out, Kevin Youkillis hit a chopper to third where Longoria made a great play to field the ball but eased up on the throw thus causing the ball to short-hop Pena at first and went into the stands. After an intentional walk to Jason Bay, Tampa manager Joe Maddon elected to pitch to Drew. He wanted the matchup of lefty-lefty with JP Howell but the numbers didn't fare in Tampa's favor. Drew was 4 for 7 in his career off Howell. Drew eventually knocked a ball into right field over the head of Gabe Gross and sent the Red Sox to victory and sent this ALCS to a Game 6 Saturday in Tampa.


Tampa Bay still leads the series 3-2 but with thoughts of 2004 (vs Yankees) and 2007 (vs Indians) in which the BoSox came back from 3-0 and 3-1 respectively, tonight had that feel of uh-oh here we go again. Boston still has alot to accomplish if they're going to make the World Series this year but with Josh Beckett and Jon Lester starting Games 6 and 7, you can't write them off just yet. Tampa counters with James Shields and Matt Garza, if it goes 7. I predicted the Rays would win in 7, but after seeing them up 7-0 tonight I thought there was no need for a Game 7, but now I'm not so sure. I guess it's not over until the fat lady sings, in this case, I hope she's in Tampa Saturday night and is ready to belt out a few notes. In case you didn't notice, I hate Boston and always will, so I was looking for their demise tonight. I guess I'll wait a few more days. Boy I hope my face isn't red after this series is over.
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NLCS Thoughts: Joe Torre and Manny Ramirez


Let's start off the new blog with an old friend, Joe Torre. He and another old "friend" Manny Ramirez are in the LCS looking to reach the World Series in a year where Torre proved he still has steam left in the tank and Manny is showing the world why he is one of the greatest hitters of all-time.

Everyone knows how Torre and the Yankees left off last October and for one, I thought it was time for a change with the Yanks. I loved Torre but it was time to move on. As a Yankee fan, I'll always have a place for him in my heart as he gave me so many great moments over the years. I wish him well in these playoffs and honestly hopes he wins it all. Maybe then, Hank Steinbrenner can shut his mouth and worry about the major issues with his team. As for Manny, I'm rooting for the guy too. I never thought I would say that but it's true. I want him to win a World Series and be able to laugh right in Boston's face. He's one of us now, the anti-Sox Nation.

It'll be interesting to see how the rest of the NLCS plays out, the Dodgers were able to salvage a game last night, thus making this a series again. I do like the Phillies though. The lineup is tough and so is the bullpen. Ryan Madsen setting up an untouchable Brad Lidge is a force to be reckoned with. Kinda reminds me of Mariano Rivera to John Wettland in '96. Ok, maybe I'm getting too ahead of myself but that 1-2 combo at the end of the bullpen for Philly is dangerous right now. And I believe that is a huge difference maker between the two teams. Although Philly's starting pitching doesn't match up with L.A.'s but I think the two teams are well matched. The Dodgers are relying on Ramirez to carry them offensively and so far he has. The pitching has to step up and so does the rest of the offense.

Derek Lowe is starting today's Game 4 on three days rest, the Dodgers need to pull out a victory today to stay alive. Joe Torre knows all about must wins, so does Manny, can they pull it off and tie the series at 2-2? I hope so, I want to see the legacy of Joe Torre live on.
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ALCS Thoughts: Rays in Seven

That's right I predict Tampa Bay to reach the Fall Classic. It's the perfect Cinderella story. A team that has been at the bottom of the A.L. East for it's entire existence since 1998, finally got their act together and is making a serious run at a championship. The youth and talent on the Rays is endless, thus making it difficult for a veteran team like the Boston Red Sox to easily put them away.

Boston in their own right is leaning on youth to guide them through this postseason. Names like Jed Lowrie, Dustin Pedoria, John Lester, Jacoby Ellsbury are leading the way. There's no more Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz isn't a god anymore at the plate and last year's World Series heores Josh Beckett and Mike Lowell aren't contributing as expected. This also is a even matchup in my opinion. Although Boston gets a slight advantage at the end of the bullpen with flame thrower Jonathan Papelbon as opposed to the Rays and Dan Wheeler (?) as their closer. Troy Percival, the Rays main closer has been hampered by injuries and was left off the ALCS roster.

The Rays have had that magic that has led many teams into the postseason in past years. They grind out one run victories, they gut out nail bitters...in other words they find a way to win. They had Boston's number all season long and held on to first place for the last 75 days of the season. A feat that is very impressive given the competition in the A.L. East. Tampa lost a hard luck game in Game 1, a game in which they had numerous chances to score and couldn't. Game 2 saw them get to Beckett and overcome various deficits and ultimately won in 11 innings. The series now shifts to Fenway Park, a place where the Sox usually hold an advantage, especially this time of year. The Rays however have not been backed down from any challenge all season and have not been afraid of the Fenway faithful. They won 2 of 3 in their last series in early Septemeber. One of those games the Rays won a game in 14 innings.

I like the underdog story of the Rays and I hope they can eliminate Bsoton. I can't stomach another Red Sox World Series appearance. I hope Joe Maddon and his crew has what it takes to stand toe to toe with Terry Francona and his troops. It seems to me that they do. The health of Boston ace Josh Beckett is a big question going into the rest of the series. He is scheduled to pitch Game 6 if it goes that far. A year ago Beckett was lights out in all of his postseason starts. This year, his production is uncertain. That could be the leading factor into whether the Sox make it back into the Fall Classic. Even then, I still like the Rays' chances and their never say die approach.
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